1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Blogs Atheism in Dragon Age: Origins

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Sifter3000, 28 Jun 2010.

  1. Saivert

    Saivert Member

    Joined:
    26 Mar 2005
    Posts:
    390
    Likes Received:
    1
    there are just going to be things we can't ever explain. if people want to make up stories in the intent of "explaining" stuff let them. As long as they don't go on a crusade because of it I'm fine with whatever beliefs people have.
     
  2. metarinka

    metarinka New Member

    Joined:
    9 Feb 2003
    Posts:
    1,844
    Likes Received:
    3
    TBH I don't think the developers thought about it. The religion is a backdrop and a sort of setting for a portion of the story. The game isn't outwardly about atheism vs theism or skepticism vs faith, so putting in an athiest option is kinda going against the grain of the game. I mean In sci-fi games you can't decide to be a luddite, so why would a magic game decide to allow you to be atheist.

    I have no doubt at some point that a game will promote that or make it a strong central point (and I would be curious to play that) but I think you're adding your own agenda to the story that the writers probably gave no thought.

    likewise this is like complaining about the lack of gay characters and homosexual conversation options in the game. RPG convo trees are a lot more limited than most realize.
     
  3. metarinka

    metarinka New Member

    Joined:
    9 Feb 2003
    Posts:
    1,844
    Likes Received:
    3
    I would just like to add, I would be interested to play a game that was specifically about one major theology, like a game based on catholism or bhuddism. A few skirt the issue or use raid them for material like painkiller, but none of them are really IN the setting or rely heavily on it for major plot points. It would be nice to have a constantine like game where you're chatting up angels and there's a big component of atheism vs theism.

    perhaps a game specifically about that where you can choose the world of magic and religion, or choose the world of science and technology. It would be interesting to see how that could work.
     
  4. void

    void New Member

    Joined:
    3 May 2010
    Posts:
    30
    Likes Received:
    1
    Haven't had a chance to read the comments, but very interesting blog post.
     
  5. domein

    domein New Member

    Joined:
    29 Jun 2010
    Posts:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Writer don't seems to get the point here - Maker in the world of DA is not an optional abstract "god", he existed and created all the spirits that inhabit the fade, and all those spirits acknowledge his existence. However Chantry and their chant of light, advertising "maker's return when all the world will chant with us", is very optional thing, and that is what "nonbelivers" is talking about. Chantry is all about influence and power, using maker as an excuse to make all the crusades and other things. And this is why Chantry so afraid of mages, who can learn from spirits about faulty of their claims and spread the word to common folk. And so indoctrinations take place in the circle, to "prepare" mages not to listen and dismiss spirits as "lying demons". And there you go why Chantry says "apostates" are dangerous and must be destroyed.
     
  6. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

    Joined:
    3 Apr 2007
    Posts:
    11,343
    Likes Received:
    292
    Again, I've not played it, but I believe Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura does this best. It goes deeply into the matter of magic (and by extension paranormal phenomena) and science or engineering. It's sorcerers versus steampunk, essentially.

    The Tech/Magic comparison is flawed. In Mass Effect, for example, technology is an definite part of the world. In Dragon Age, The Maker's existence isn't a proven fact - that's why it's a belief, not a fact. Either way, the religion is a prominent part of the game and the Atheism angle is one you can occasionally see the writers have considered and allowed for (such as with Wynne and Leliana's conversations with the player) - but it hasn't been made consistent. They provide enough wiggle room for the topic to get broached, but not enough for it to be explored.

    Also, there are gay characters in the game. Several. I'm in the middle of a gay relationship right now (even though I meant to pursue Morrigan...)

    Oh, I could, but enough wiggle room is there for the topic to come up and let me explore it, it seems. If you had to be a straight up Chantry member then I'd happily explore that. In Vampire: Bloodlines, for example, I could have just consigned myself to Gehenna, the end of the world event that they talk about a lot, as a fact - except I didn't, because they allowed you to question that idea. Which I did.

    If the writers are going to allow a bit of room to let players explore an idea then they have to go the whole way, IMHO. DA:O lets you occasionally dismiss the Chantry, which lets me take a role as an atheist - but it isn't consistently done, forcing me to switch in and out.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2010
  7. Journeyer

    Journeyer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    31 Aug 2006
    Posts:
    3,039
    Likes Received:
    99
    Excellent article!
    I was troubled by the same at numerous times during my first playthrough as well.
     
  8. bpdlr

    bpdlr High-frequency bogon emitter

    Joined:
    22 Sep 2009
    Posts:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good post Joe. I felt the same way about the game, although I'd disagree with you re: Morrigan, (" apostate mages like Morrigan temper their hatred of the church with fear of the Maker (albeit cloaked in sarcasm).") - I don't think she was fearful of the Maker, I think she straight up didn't believe in Him. Sure, she was also opposed to the Chantry as an institution, but her contempt for believers was enough to convince me that she was an atheist. Part of the reason she was far sexier than the pathetically girly Leilana.

    However, the thing that bugged me more than not having a straight up "atheist" response was not having a truly evil response - the "evil" path in the game was more the "asshole" path as far as dialogue was concerned. A truly evil person would talk sweetly and then stab your in the back. Like some games where you see:

    1) Promise to get the artefact for so-and-so
    2) Promise to get the artefact for so-and-so (Lie)

    Far more realistic.
     
  9. Bauul

    Bauul Sir Bongaminge

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2007
    Posts:
    2,173
    Likes Received:
    38
    I think this basically comes down to RPGs not fully exploring potential points of view that it hints are available.

    It doesn't matter how many view points are actually available, just that if they are, they're fully explored. In Mass Effect, the options are quite limited, but you don't mind because they're so well developed. Likewise with the Fallout games, you can be all sorts of player types and each one feels complete.

    If in Mass Effect you could have a conversation with a squad member about a potential mission that you can't actually do, the game suffers by its inclusion. Sometimes less is more.
     
  10. dylawesome

    dylawesome New Member

    Joined:
    21 Jan 2010
    Posts:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    DA is clearly not a game where there's a big question about whether there are entities of great power that can travel between planes and perform magical acts. Atheism, if used to say, "there is no Maker, Andraste, Archdemon," would be an odd-ball stance for a character to have, not well supported by the evidence in the worlds. Atheism for a character, in the form of, "There probably is Maker, Andraste, Archdemon, etc, but they exist on the same power continuum as everything else and I don't worship them," is much more reasonable approach to atheism for this setting.

    Kinda like Gozer the Gozerian from Ghostbusters. It exists. It's a deity by many mythologies' metrics. Worship it if you like, or not. Keep it from destroying the world, if possible.


    As for there being no scientists, I feel like the game's backstory of the guys who went into the golden city and tried to see how far they could bend power to their will were kinda like scientists in so many other stories that inevitably reach too far and unleash trouble.
     
  11. mark_dsp

    mark_dsp Access to HF, bones are overrated!

    Joined:
    24 Jun 2010
    Posts:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Off topic rant really. Don't particularly read bit tech for atheist zealotry. Do we now have to have another pointless article on the Christian undertones of Lord of the Rings?
     
  12. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

    Joined:
    3 Apr 2007
    Posts:
    11,343
    Likes Received:
    292
    I don't see how this is either a rant (when I say it's not something that ruins the game, just a curiousity that occasionally grates), nor zealotry (when I say that it's a personal choice and not one I'd enforce or usually take issue with). If you think the article is pointless, I've got to question why you'd read it - unless you didn't and are taking a knee jerk reaction?

    It's a blog about game design and role-playing, on a (at least partly) games website and by a games journalist and which actively and explicitly seeks to avoid discussion of real-world religion...hard to see how it could be construed as being off-topic, really.

    That said, I did study the Christian undertones and imagery of Lord of the Rings (and the other works put out by the Inklings) at Uni, so if you want to have an a discussion about that then I'd be more than happy. This isn't really the place though - so I'd say that that conversation is actually a bit off-topic...
     
  13. ryall

    ryall New Member

    Joined:
    21 Mar 2007
    Posts:
    39
    Likes Received:
    2
    I agree entirely. I was livid when the developers of pacman forced their beliefs on me. I find it impossible to agree with the concept of life after death, and yet the game's main antagonisers are ghosts. And the whole you-must-be-reincarnated-3-times-before-you-reach-nirvana-and-the-game-ends thing just pisses me off!
     
    WildThing and CardJoe like this.
  14. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

    Joined:
    3 Apr 2007
    Posts:
    11,343
    Likes Received:
    292
    + rep
     
  15. ThunderBob

    ThunderBob New Member

    Joined:
    19 Sep 2005
    Posts:
    179
    Likes Received:
    3
    As DbD said. Its a game.

    You dont like the religion in it. Walk away.

    I dont like coffee. Doesnt mean i yell at Nescafe for putting adverts on my TV.

    Pfffft. Well written but utterly pointless.
     
  16. mark_dsp

    mark_dsp Access to HF, bones are overrated!

    Joined:
    24 Jun 2010
    Posts:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sad as it may seem I read mostly everything posted on here as the articles aren't pumped out at a rate like engadget, which is no bad thing. My reading the article is perhaps more down to habit due to the overall quality of bit-tech articles. I place little value on titles as they're just the billboard to get you to read the article in many cases.

    Whilst at uni I had a trick for my SSCs where I would pick an aspect of a topic and cover it from that angle so making the paper almost entirely about a subject I was actually interested in. For example an essay on the medical efficacy of counselling can be turned into an essay on the reason people commit suicide as long as you constantly tie back into the requested theme.

    To me the overall theme of the article would come accross as an expression of distaste for religous matter being encountered in every day life without a caveat to make sure atheists feel comfortable. Having not played Dragon Age: Origins I can't say I've learned a great deal about it from the article, it feels more like window dressing for a theme you're more interested in ie the removal of religion from your life.

    With Lord of the rings, being a game and all, I think it's Christian undertones and the implications of adopting such themes for games could in my opinion be equally as relevant for gaming articles as this. Of course by equally relevant I mean not really relevant at all...
     
  17. DoubleTouch

    DoubleTouch Is powering up

    Joined:
    24 Apr 2009
    Posts:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Kudos on this article as this is something that has been knawing away in the back of my mind for a while now.

    When I played through Dragon Age I did so as an Atheist, as I usually do (consciously or sub-consciously) whenever I play an RPG as I am one in real life. This, I feel, is a natural consequence of giving player's the ability to create their character, as in order for the user to connect with their virtual representation it helps immersion if you can understand better their motives, beliefs and choices. It helps guide these choices in the adventure to follow and allows a more three dimensional character to exist – negating somewhat the usual 'click this dialogue strand to be good, click this dialogue strand to be bad (Just a quick note on this: Star Wars games have set back RPG considerably for their over-reliance on completely polarised choices – light and dark side, no shades of grey). That is not to say for one moment however that players are always restrained to playing a version of themselves when in game, far from it, it is just easier for them to connect and construct a character based on personal experience. For example, it is easier for me to create my atheist male and understand him as a well-rounded character, than it is for me to create a female theist, as I am neither female or religious in real life and have no experience of being in either of these states.

    However, this choice in crafting your character – no matter how detailed the construction tool is – MUST be partnered with equal depth in-game (i.e. dialogue, action and belief structures), which as I aforementioned with my Star Wars analogy, often is far from the case. As pointed out in the article, this is where Dragon Age falls short, and unfortunately from my experience with it, left me cold and disattached to the world – a stunningly realised and deep world, but a cold one none-the-less for me and my character.

    As noted in the article, the choices that my character would logically have taken, were not available to me and this left me making continued compromises to my character's integrity and solidness. It left my character permanently in flux, never being able to be pinned down and that broke immersion and believability, something that is crucial for humans to connect to a story or character. A quick example of my meaning: In the film Gladiator, the viewer is allowed to connect and learn who Maximus is throughout the film: you watch his wife and children die, you watch his mentor die, you see him fight and understand why he is fighting (both for and against the Empire), you hear him speak his thoughts on politics, on his religion and beliefs and learn his motives for the actions he commits. By doing this, when he is faced with almost unimaginable adversity, and triumphs in the face of it – finishing off the Emperor despite being mortally wounded – the entire narrative is lifted to a place impossible if we knew nought about him. When he walks off in to the fields of Elysium and meets his wife and children again, the viewers – despite if they are religious or not – understand how poignant this is, how it is such a fitting end for this man.

    In Dragon Age though, the limited choice in terms of dialogue, available actions and possible beliefs, forces you to play a character who you may not know (one who at least begrudgingly accepts The Maker's existence) and it distances you from that character as the story progresses, constantly making you take decisions that you would not take. This may be a little spurious but: Would we support and understand Maximus if halfway through the film he suddenly accepts that their is no afterlife? THat there will be no 'vengeance in this life or the next'? No, we would not, as it is that belief structure that drives his motives, shapes his character, takes him to that final showdown.

    When I played Dragon Age, as an atheist / realist, come that final showdown, I was so detached from my character that I didn't care less whether my character sacrificed themselves or not, because I didn't know them and didn't know if it was something they would do or not. After all, why not throw myself onto the Dragon, as over the past 60 or so hours my character has made it perfectly clear (albeit begrudgingly) that The Maker does exist and that there is an afterlife.

    An addendum: I am currently replaying the game as a female human noble theist (a role I am completely unconnected with), and funnily enough, my characters progression has not being compromised once.
     
    CardJoe likes this.
  18. Blackie Chan

    Blackie Chan New Member

    Joined:
    5 Nov 2009
    Posts:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have to say that I disagree with this post. In this world, the maker isn't some faith based deity like in our world, he is fact. It isn't really a religion so much as the history of bioware's fiction. there are demons and evil spirits in abundance. If you believe in ghost IRL then i think you're nuts, if you don't believe that ferelden has ghosts and demons... then you're missing the point.
     
  19. Blackie Chan

    Blackie Chan New Member

    Joined:
    5 Nov 2009
    Posts:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    And besides the "maker" is admittedly absent and doesn't effect or listen to his creation anymore. So really, who gives a damn about the chantry.
     
Tags: Add Tags

Share This Page